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Nessa Hopkins

Senior Writer & Kayaking Instructor
Water Safety


  • ACA-certified kayaking instructor with over 20 years experience in paddle sports
  • Accomplished trainer who has taught over 500 people to kayak and paddle board.
  • Former Senior Writer at SunshineKayaking.com
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Journalism and Political Sciences
  • Expert in hands-on gear testing, with comprehensive experience across various types of kayaks, paddle boards, and water sports equipment.


Nessa was first introduced to kayaking and paddle boarding when she was just 12, during a family holiday in California. She immediately fell in love with the sport and has never looked back. Nessa has been at it for over 20 years now, so you could say she knows her way around a paddle.

As an ACA-accredited kayaking instructor, she has spent a decade specializing in various forms of river, open water and recreational kayaking techniques.  Throughout her career, Nessa has helped hundreds of people from all walks of life take their first step (stroke) into the world of paddle sports – a fact she is very proud of.

Nessa often says;

Every new paddler I coach isn’t just learning the strokes; they’re capturing a piece of the enthusiasm and dedication that has shaped my world.

Before joining WaterSportsWhiz, Nessa was the Senior Writer at SunshineKayaking.com. Her role there was not just as a writer, sharing knowledge of kayaking and paddle boarding, she was their chief instructor as well. Making her a rare breed of writer who not only talks the talk but also walks the walk.

In her spare time, Nessa is an avid whitewater kayaker, a passion she shares with her wife, Rebecca. The pair can regularly be spotted on the rapids practicing their airscrews, loops, and cartwheels – they are quite the show-offs.  

Outside of water sports, Nessa is a keen baker and is the reason why a few members of the WaterSportWhiz team might struggle to fit into their wet suits next session. When she isn’t busy force-feeding the team with her delicious treats, she loves spending time outdoors with her English Bull Terrier, Spike.

With thousands of miles paddled, Nessa is a true kayak veteran. Her unstoppable enthusiasm, coupled with her breadth of knowledge, makes us and the readers of WaterSportWhiz incredibly fortunate to have her on board.



Nessa holds a Master’s in Journalism and Political Sciences, but she’s not just book-smart. She knows how to dig deep and tell a good story, skills she’s put to good use in the world of paddle sports. She’s turned her love for the water into a full-time gig, and that makes her a go-to person for anyone looking to learn.

Professional Certifications 

As an L4 ACA-accredited kayaking instructor, Nessa has undergone comprehensive training in fast water safety protocols, swift water rescue, advanced paddling techniques, coastal kayaking, and whitewater paddling. She’s not just someone who loves water sports; she’s someone who knows how to teach everything about it well.


Nessa is an active member of the American Canoe Association, which keeps her in the loop on new techniques, regulations, and the latest gear through workshops and events she attends. She is dedicated to staying informed and sharing her knowledge with our readers.

Teaching & Coaching 

While Nessa is an accomplished water sports writer, her true calling lies in coaching. She has successfully trained paddlers of all ages and expertise, from novices to professionals. While she loves to focus on the paddling fundamentals like proper technique and safety, she always ensures that learning is an enjoyable experience. Laughter and giggles from her classes often echo across the water, showcasing her ability to blend instruction with fun.